Thirty-five years from now, nearly twice as many people will call Utah home.
This growth will affect everything from our neighborhoods, cities, and roadways to our economy, our parks and trails, our natural resources, and our environment. But Utahns have high expectations for the future. We believe that Utah can get better even as our population gets bigger.
To that end, Envision Utah and Governor Gary Herbert recently released the Your Utah, Your Future vision for 2050 (see http://yourutahyourfuture.org/). The vision paints a clear picture for the future of the state—both in terms of what Utahns want the future to be, and what we can all do to get there. It covers 11 topics and is built on the work of 400 of Utah’s experts in those topics as well as the collective input of more than 52,000 Utahns.
Utahns envision a future in which their state and communities are:
Safe, secure, and resilient
Neighborly, fair, and caring
Healthy, beautiful, and clean
There are hundreds of things we could all do to achieve this vision and the vision for each of the 11 topics. But the most important and all-encompassing strategies boil down to just four core strategies, or cornerstones, to make the vision a reality.
First, we need to ensure our communities are convenient by bringing destinations close to where people live and providing a variety of housing options. A network of walkable city and town centers (picture the Main Streets we used to build) can make it more convenient to drive short distances, walk, bike or take public transportation. And a variety of housing types (from apartments to single family homes on a variety of lot sizes) will make our communities vibrant and affordable.
Second, we need to ensure our homes, buildings, cars, and landscaping are safe, clean, and efficient. Lower-emission homes, buildings, and cars can significantly improve our air quality, and with the right design our houses and businesses can withstand an earthquake. Water-wise landscaping can reduce our water use so that we have plenty for other needs like growing food and accommodating community growth.
Third, we need to ensure we foster economic growth outside the urban area of the state to ensure we also have a thriving rural Utah. A diverse economy built on a balanced variety of industries and land uses can help ensure that children don’t need to leave the community to make a living.
Fourth, we need to ensure our education system prepares Utahns for the jobs and challenges of the future. With early childhood education, high-quality teachers, student assessments and assistance, and affordable post-high school education, we can have a workforce that attracts employers and spurs innovation, leading to a prosperous economy.
Those four things—better neighborhoods and communities, better buildings and cars, better economic growth in rural Utah, and better education across the state—will get Utah to the future we all said we want to see.
In addition to these four implementation cornerstones, there are specific goals and strategies for each of the 11 topics. This gives us a clear path forward. We can maintain a thriving state and an enviable quality of life even as we grow, and we have a roadmap to get there. It will take all of us working together to make it a reality, but Utahns are willing to do their part.
We invite you to visit envisionutah.org to learn about the vision for 2050, and see what you can do to make it a reality.